Note: There is no transcript for CHAT DAY 2018, which was cancelled due to the Government Shutdown initiated on January 20, 2018.

These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

Download Full Year

can drugs mess up your teeth if you dont brush them

-zandra_baby, Pennsylvania

You may have seen posters or pictures of people who use methamphetamine and their teeth are particularly unattractive. We often don't think about it, but teeth and gums depend on a healthy blood supply and enough saliva to remain in good health. Methamphetamine does not really do anything to teeth, but it has profound effects on your gums and the blood that gets there. Methamphetamine is a vasoconstrictor, that is, it makes your capillaries and blood vessels smaller, decreasing the blood (and oxygen supply) to your gums. When teeth and gums don't have enough, the gums dry and don't hold the teeth in properly anymore. Without adequate saliva, your teeth are more prone to decay and you are more apt to get periodontal disease, a particularly nasty gum condition--never a pretty picture.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs with impurities be more dangerous?

-271828, Vermont

Vermont - You are asking a very good question. Yes, this is true. Sometimes the impurities are more dangerous than the drug itself. A good example is 'paraquat' - which is often present in pot. Paraquat is an insecticide that is used in growing pot marijuana. This can produce respiratory failure if the concentrations are high and exposure heavy. Another good example is a terrible problem that happened in the 1990s. Meperidine, a potent opiate-type drug, was being synthesized in a clandestine laboratory. The synthesis inadvertently produced MPTP, a chemical that produced parkinsonism, a serious disease that Michael J. Fox has, in the young people who took the drug. They were permanently affected by taking this drug. Another more recent example that young people need to be aware of is the drug Spice or K2. These drugs are sold as legal pot or marijuana, but they are also chemicals that are produced in clandestine laboratories with no quality control. The chemicals have not yet been tested in humans to test their safety. When you smoke K2 or spice, you are experimenting on yourself. You don't know what you are taking, how much you are taking- these drugs can be up to 100 times more potent than pot, and you don't know what other impurities may be present. I hope this information is helpful.

-Marilyn Huestis

can drugz mest up your life

-amitchell, Pennsylvania

Can drugs mess up your life? You betcha!! Drugs have a very powerful impact on the body, brain, and behavior. Effects of prolonged drug exposure on the body include lung cancer, liver and kidney disease, stroke, increased risk of contracting an infections disease like HIV, and addiction - just to name a few. Exposure to drugs can profoundly affect the brain impacting memory, concentration, attention, the ability to learn new things, and ability to make good decisions. Social consequences include poor school and academic performance, strained family relationships, and even arrest. Mor information regarding the medical consequences of drug use is available at:

-Redonna Chandler

can every drug kill u after a while and can u overdose on painpills

-nidachat, New Hampshire

You can overdose on most every drug of abuse. Yes you can overdose on 'painpills'. they are typically opiates and in high doses opiates depress breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal!

-David Shurtleff

can every drug kill you for a fact?

-love_fletcher, Kentucky

Anything in enough quantity can kill you. Drinking too much water can kill you. Breathing pure oxygen can kill you. Overdosing on aspirin is a leading cause of emergency room admissions and death. Every drug has good and bad effects. That is why you should only take drugs under a doctor's supervision and stay away from illegal drugs.

-Steve Grant

Can everyday items make you high?

-nats379, Maryland

Yep - there are a bunch of simple household chemicals that can be used as 'inhalants' to make you high. But this is extremely risky. Sniffing gas or solvents can have really bad health consequences- and can even hurt your brain. Since teen brains are still in development, inhalants can really cause some damage. Check out the NIDA website for information on inhalants at

-Nicolette Borek

Can excessive drug (not alcohol) use damage important organs like the liver and kidney?

-josh9994, New Jersey

Good question, Josh. Excessive use of a number of different drugs of abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine, Ecstacy, marijuana) aside from alcohol can definitely cause organ damage. Check this out:

-David White


-big****bandit, Maryland

Absolutely. Not a scare tactic. Take opioids like prescription pain killers for example. If a first time user snorts these pills (after crushing them), they'll get a big dose of the pain killers in the blood very quickly. Since they never took opioids before, his/her body has not adapted to opioids, so a dose that would not kill a pain patient (for whom they are prescribed to take in pill form orally), kills them on the spot. Other drugs, different story, same result. Maybe they smoke marijuana and then decide to drive home-one car accident ends their life. However, drug addiction tends to be a slow killer...Check out for more information.

-David Thomas

Can helpful antibiotics be created from methamphetamine or Acid?

-Genifore, Georgia

Not that I know of. In fact, there is some evidence that methamphetamine impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infection, especially HIV.

-Steve Grant

can herion make you commit crimes you never would have done sober

-11gb, Kentucky

Yes - the use of all drugs can cause you to do things you would not do when sober including committing crimes. Drugs have a significant impact on the brain. One of the many things that happens to the brain under the influence of drugs is that decision making is significantly impaired. It is also difficult to control impluses, and people will often do things they would not normally do.

-Redonna Chandler

can huffing air duster hurt you

-chatgoboom, Georgia

Huffing any inhalant can be very dangerous. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Within minutes of inhalation, users feel 'high.' But huffing may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). You can get more information from our teen site at

-Jane Lipkin

can i get addicted if i only smoke once a year

-dreamer, Georgia

Hi dreamer!You ask a question that is difficult to answer. Each cigarette contains about 10 milligrams of nicotine. Because smokers inhale only some of the smoke from a cigarette, everyone inhales different amounts, and not all of each puff is absorbed in the lungs, a smoker gets about 1 to 2 milligrams of the drug from each cigarette. Although that may not seem like much, it is enough to make someone addicted. It is hard to say how many puffs will lead to addiction and once a person becomes addicted, it is extremely difficult to quit. People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting, and fewer than 1 in 10 people who try to quit smoking succeed. For more facts about nicotine and other drugs, check out NIDA's new booklet for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths at Thanks for your question!

-Marsha Lopez

can i get super high off hand senitizer?

-patrick, Maryland

While some hand sanitizers do contain ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcohol that you drink, they contain lots of other ingredients as well. These other ingredients could make you really sick if you drink them.

-Aaron White

Can you get addicted to perscription drugs?

-powerup12, Kentucky

Yes, absolutely. That's an important question because some people believe that if a doctor prescribes a drug, it must not be addictive. The catch is, these drugs can be addictive when people use them other than as prescribed by the doctor.The most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain relievers like oxycontin and vicodin. In 2009, approximately 1.4 million individuals aged 12 or older were addicted to pain relievers. This risk for addiction is a real threat -- and it highlights the importance of using prescrition drugs ONLY under the close supervision of a physician.Here's more information on prescirption drugs:

-Kevin Conway

Can you get addicted to weed?

-zEFRON, Vermont

yes--9% of users; 1 in 6 if you start young; and 25-50% of daily users become addicted

-Susan Weiss

can you get brain damage by sniffing those scented markers?

-Num nums, New Jersey

Yup. The organic solvents in those markers are what we call 'inhalants' and go directly to fatty tissues and membranes and dissolve the lipids. The organs with the most lipids are your brain and your liver. Children can be particularly susceptible to inhalants--some of whom have died after a single session of inhaling.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you get dependent on Pain killers even though you got them prescribed by a doctor?

-Flamboiantchick, Utah

I love this question! Lot's of people get confused about this. Yes, you can get dependent on prescription pain killers (opioids). However, this is NOT addiction. Drug dependence is when you have a physiological reaction to stopping taking a drug. With long-term opioid treatment, dependence is common.However, addiction is a different story. Addiction is compulsive use despite harm. That is a lot less common when you get the pain killers from doctors for an actual pain condition. For more info, see

-David Thomas

can you get drunk from peroxcide ?

-trios, Pennsylvania

There isn't any alcohol in peroxide, so it wouldn't make you drunk, but it would probably make you really sick!

-Aaron White

Can you get high by smoking paper?

-Num nums, New Jersey

Probably not, but it depends on what the paper is made out of. My guess that most smoking most types of paper would have more bad effects than good, since when you burn paper and inhale the smoke, it releases a wide variety of chemicals, some of which can lead lung problems including cancer.

-Steve Grant

can you get high by smoking seasonings?

-Mercedes, Vermont

I doubt it; although there may be some seasoning out there that might do it, I guess. I just don't know.Let me know if you know of a specific one.thanks

-Ruben Baler

Can you get high from snorting pixie sticks?

-ASHS, Maryland

nope, just some burning in your nose. I heard some doctors say that maggots could grow there, but I think it's just a rumor.

-Ruben Baler

can you get high of smoking banna peels?

-seniorbrwnwater, Kentucky


-Nancy Pilotte

can you get high of smoking nutmeg?

-seniorbrwnwater, Kentucky

This is a myth that keeps popping up.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you get high off of any prescription or over-the-counter drug?

-starprepacademy, California

No you can't get high off of just any prescription or over-the-counter drugs. For example, people don't get high from antibiotics. Only drugs that activate specific circuits in the brain will make you high. If you want to learn more about how drugs work in the brain to produce their euphoric effects check out our website,

-Cindy Miner

Can you get high off of medicated marijuana?

-saaabrinuh, New Jersey

yes--marijuana makes you high--it doesn't really matter why you are using it. But it depends on how much you smoke and a variety of other factors. You can also get addicted if you use it repeatedly. Also, just fyi, marijuana is not an FDA-approved medication although some states have legalized its medical use

-Susan Weiss

can you get high off of sharpie markers?

-Rocky, New Jersey

I would not describe the feeling as a high (although I've never inhaled myself :) , is probably more like the effect of a heavy dose of alcohol.

-Ruben Baler

Can you get high off sharpies?

-12345, New Jersey

I would not describe the feeling as a high (although I've never inhaled myself :) , is probably more like the effect of a heavy dose of alcohol.

-Ruben Baler

Can you get high off white out?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

I would not call it a high, it is more like the feeling of being drunk and perhaps some loss of consciousness.Bad idea.

-Ruben Baler

Do drugs effect your poop?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

New Jersey - I am curious why you are asking this question. Drugs can affect your poop by making you have diarrhea or making you constipated. Drugs are also deposited in your poop. A good example is that when trying to determine if a baby was exposed during pregnancy to drugs, we can measure the drugs in their poop after they are born. Other than this, there's not much more to say ...

-Marilyn Huestis

do drugs make someone spermcells go low


Yes, and they also cause increased portions of the sperm to be mis-shaped. Not only that, but it has been shown that alcohol affects molecules that attach to DNA of the sperm that effect how the DNA is 'read' by the body or the developing fetus. This can cause the resulting babies to have lowered growth or mental capacity even if the mom never did any drugs or alcohol.

-Jim Bjork